Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Junior Star Fucale Waits for Chances with Canadiens Deep in Goaltending

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Junior Star Fucale Waits for Chances with Canadiens Deep in Goaltending

Article excerpt

Habs Fucale waits for chances in goal

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BROSSARD, Que. - With all his accomplishments in junior hockey, Zach Fucale was expected to be making his mark in the NHL by now.

But the Laval, Que., native finds himself fourth on the depth chart of the Montreal Canadiens, where 2015 Vezina Trophy winner and 2014 Olympic gold medallist Carey Price rules the net.

Minor injuries suffered in camp this week by Price's veteran backup Al Montoya and third-stringer Charlie Lindgren may give Fucale another chance to show what he can do in the team's penultimate pre-season game Friday night against the Florida Panthers.

"It goes very fast in hockey so you have to stay ready at all times," Fucale said Thursday. "All I have to do is practise hard and wait for an opportunity."

Coach Claude Julien had yet to decide who will start because there is a chance that Montoya may have healed enough to return after being struck in the neck by a puck during practice this week. Lindgren has been out since suffering a lower-body injury during practice on Monday.

Fucale had been assigned to the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League, but was recalled on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old spent nearly all of last season with the Brampton Beast of the ECHL, where he went 25-12-2 with a 3.17 goals-against average. Montreal preferred having him in the lower league so he could play a lot instead of languishing as Lindgren's backup in the AHL.

Lindren was signed as a free agent from St. Cloud State University in 2016 and was impressive from the outset. He got into his first NHL game almost right away and won it 4-2 over Carolina. He started two more NHL games last season and won both of them.

And Fucale will have to watch his rear-view mirror because Montreal also has Michael McNiven, who was goaltender of the year in the Ontario Hockey League last season after going 41-9-2 with the Owen Sound Attack. It is expected that the 20-year-old McNiven will play in Brampton this season while Fucale moves up to the AHL squad behind Lindgren.

Whatever they decide, Julien likes what he has in goal.

"I like the fact that last year before I got here they sent (Fucale) to the E so he can play more," Julien said. "I like the fact that we do that with goaltenders instead of being backups in the minors. …

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